I'm going to be completely transparent and let you in on a little secret... I have never been great (really at all) with 'self-care'.  Up until roughly 4 or 5 years ago (I'm in my mid-forties by the way), I had only viewed the term 'self-care' as a form of either yoga meditation, massages or simply keeping up with my regular mani-pedi appointments. However in the past few years and honestly speaking in the last two years or so, I've learned that 'self-care' is so much more than those physical activities. 

I have come to realize that the term 'self-care' is much deeper than massages and manicures. Digging more deeply, I have found that there are actually about 8 main areas of this practice. They are physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, and financial.  The foundation and continuation to this work can be quite immersed, layered in months and years of growth, truly creating what I would like to believe is balance and ultimately cause what my pastor would so eloquently
term, "wholeness".  

Since I was in college or perhaps earlier, I had this picture of what it would be like to be in love. To have an amazing career, a love life and family... to truly have it all.  I had grown up in a two-parent household. Both of my parents worked (extremely hard). It was the early eighties and nineties when the aerospace field and the economy was up and down. My parents sacrificed and did what they could, which meant that I had to do my part and be a "latchkey kid" and sometimes it was quite lonely, especially being an only child. I did have days when I would play with the kids in the neighborhood and felt like the world could not have been any sweeter. I remember skateboarding down hills while my neighbor's dog either chased us or pulled us like reindeer or laughing and riding our bikes until the sun disappeared past the hills, creating dusk as the street lamps revealed dirt stained shirts and cheeks. However, we moved around a lot so I never truly felt like I had my footing. In high school, I had always felt awkward especially being the only black female during my ninth thru half of my eleventh grade years and then being pushed into public school in April of my junior year. It was a culture shock. In college I went from awkward and shy to being surrounded by kids who looked like me and boys who suddenly wanted to talk to me and take me out on dates. I lost my mind --- sort of speak. I was finally "accepted" , desired... and maybe loved? I experienced my first boyfriend and breakup. But I wasn't quite sure what love was. I didn't realize that I had to take time to learn myself as a young woman, to understand myself.  Back then, self care and therapy weren't really talked about and ingrained in our culture, as it is now. We didn't have buzzwords or instagram posts or conversations with our parents about therapy. It was rather taboo. I just kept going, trying to build my dream life but without a clear vision of how to get there. 

Fast foward to just a few years ago, I remember taking the picture below. It was months after a breakup which I honestly was not expecting but in my heart, I knew it had to be done. I had finally begun to feel a little strong and healed just enough to be responsible for my choices and allow myself to mourn the loss of time while surprisingly and intentionally remaining vulnerable, keeping my heart open. Truthfully, I should have never entered the relationship in the first place but because I was an early 40-something, hopeless romantic and still looking for love, I decided to create it with someone who truly was not ready to give it, thus ignoring boundaries, glaring red flags, and quite frankly and simply, my gut which warned me in the first place. I created an unnecessary heartbreak. At the same time I recognized that this was a critical point in my life where I knew I had to make a choice. What I want vs. what I truly need. 

What I did gain was an acute awareness of what I had been missing... a deep understanding of what it means to create space for emotional and spiritual self-care and allowing myself to have the number one spot while developing an even deeper relationship with...guess who? me.

Now, I've always been a church girl. Growing up in church was a requirement. Sleeping in on a Sunday?...my parents were not having it. However, in my twenties and thirties and more-so truly now, a relationship with Christ is my choice and still very much a necessity.  However, there are things that, in my own opinion, go hand in hand with having a healthy spiritual well-being and a truly deep understanding of what it is to take care of myself emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually that spill into the other areas of my life. When I had taken that picture, I had just finished my first couple of sessions of therapy..ever. At first, I literally had no idea what I was doing. 'To be safe', I started out with seeking a church counselor but after a couple of sessions for me, it still didn't fit just quite right so I sought out a licensed therapist with the skills and experience in what I was dealing with. I wanted a therapist that I thought would be right for me. It was one of the best things that I could have ever done and still do. In fact, even now and also at my highest points (just not my lowest), I still like to keep my conversation going.

Now, I'm invested in multiple ways of self-care.  From psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical to social, professional, environmental and financial, they all work together to increase my capacity to live a life of balance and wholeness.

Throughout this year of 2023, the theme of Oceans And Roads is 'exploring self-care'. From our articles to videos to interviews, I intend to create a space that generates love --- for oneself and our community. I intend to highlight spaces and individuals that create space for us to breathe again.. to open our imaginations, to explore and to expand our views of ourselves and those who are and who are not in our community.  To start.. in January and over the next few months, we'll explore 'physical self-care'. It’s also important to remember that self-care looks different to everyone. It’s about what works for you and what makes you feel good, allowing you to maintain a healthy relationship with physical self, your mental health and spiritual well-being. Time waits for no one. 

And it is time to create a life well lived...and loved.


Featured image is from Aman Luxury Resorts | Amanemu Spa, Japan https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanemu

disclaimer...this post is strictly an opinion piece and not meant to be taken as advice or instructions for self-care work. Please seek out a therapist, church counselor or professional care for help that you may want or need. Also please call a friend, loved one or someone that you trust if you feel that you need or want to talk to someone. Last, but not least, know that you are loved from this side of the ocean and i'm praying for you. 
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